LOS ANGELES — The Washington Nationals were the recipients of three errors by the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night. Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, the 2011 Cy Young Award winner, had no intention of being so charitable.
Kershaw yielded three hits, walked one batter and struck out six in eight innings. Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp provided the offense to lead the Dodgers to a 3-2 victory Friday night in a matchup of division leaders.
The Nationals came within a narrow margin of tying the game in the ninth when second baseman Danny Espinosa hit a ball down the right-field line near the foul pole against reliever Kenley Jansen. First base umpire Mark Carlson ruled it a foul ball. The umpires did not use the replay to check the call.
"I knew I hit it well, and it was tough to tell whether it was fair or foul," said Espinosa, whose eighth-inning relay throw on Juan Uribe's double cut down Tony Gwynn Jr. in the bottom of the eighth and kept it a one-run deficit. "The ball was hooking and a fan might have reached out near the foul pole."
The Nationals (14-6) lost their second consecutive game, their second two-game losing streak of the season. It was the seventh time in the last nine games they've scored three or fewer runs in a game.
Bryce Harper, the top overall pick in the 2010 amateur draft, will join the team Saturday for his eagerly-anticipated major league debut. Harper was called up because Ryan Zimmerman, who last played on April 20, will be put on the disabled list. Relief pitcher Brad Lidge was also placed on the disabled list Friday, with his roster spot taken by Ryan Perry.
Kemp and Ethier, the No. 3 and 4 hitters in the Dodgers' (14-6) order, had four of the team's seven hits.
Nationals starting pitcher Ross Detwiler (2-1) retired the first two batters of the game, then Kemp smacked a single by third baseman Steve Lombardozzi. Ethier followed by drilling a home run on top of the fence which separates the right-field stands from the bullpen.
"I didn't have my best stuff tonight," said Detwiler, who gave up three runs on two walks and five hits in six innings. "It was a 1-0 curve ball that I got too far inside, but he was in front of it."
Kemp and Ethier started things off in the top of the fourth when they each singled to left field. Detwiler then fielded Jerry Hairston's bunt on the third-base side of the mound. He thought about trying for the force out at third, but decided to take the sure out at first.
With the infield in, Detwiler managed to retire James Loney on a bouncing ball to first, but he couldn't shut the door. Uribe hit a ball to shortstop Ian Desmond deep in the hole. Desmond made a play to come up with it, but his throw to first was slightly off and Uribe's infield single gave the Dodgers a 3-0 lead.
"Those hitters are carrying their ball club," Nationals manager Davey Johnson said.
The Nationals narrowed the gap to 3-2 in the sixth when Jayson Werth drew a leadoff walk, and Adam LaRoche drilled Kershaw's 0-2 pitch into the Nationals right-field bullpen.
"He's effectively wild and in that situation, you have to hope he makes a mistake," said LaRoche, who is hitting .333 and has three home runs and 16 RBI. "I don't think that was where he [Kershaw] wanted the pitch."
NOTES — After Chad Tracy was hit by a Jansen fastball just below the hand side of his right wrist with two outs in the ninth, Johnson used pitcher Edwin Jackson as a pinch-runner. The only position players he had remaining were catcher Wilson Ramos and outfielder Rick Ankiel, who would have been used to pinch hit had Jesus Flores reached base. Tracy said at first he expected his hand to be broken, adding the pain went away after the game ended.